"I'd liked to be remembered as a good, fair competitor that had a great work ethic," Bede Durbidge said. "I'd like to think I was never handed anything on a silver platter and strived to make my own mark."
It's safe to say that Bede will have his wish. For over a decade the Australian has operated at the very top end of his considerable talents, forging a remarkable, and perhaps underrated, career. He is a Triple Crown winner and a Pipe Master and between 2007 and 2010 was a genuine World Title contender, finishing runner-up in 2008. He has four Championship Tour (CT) event wins to his name and since his first year in 2005 has never once qualified by the Qualified Series (QS).
His competitive achievements are worth celebrating, but it perhaps the manner in which he has achieved them that should be even more lauded. Finding anyone, anywhere, to say a bad word about Durbo is impossible and God knows I tried. Matching his work ethic and competitive drive is his ever-present laugh, a jaw-dropping, flip-head cackle that has been the soundtrack in the competitor's area for a decade. His comeback from a broken pelvis sustained at the Pipe Masters in 2015 was yet another example of Bede's inner core; a mix of remarkable mental and physical strength that comes wrapped in consistent positivity.
Durbidge announced his retirement just before Trestles in September, having taken a role as Surfing Australia's elite program manager for the upcoming 2020 Olympic Games. However, any thought that the upcoming retirement would take the edge off his competitive act was obliterated when he brought some of his best surfing of the year to Trestles.
"Since I decided to wrap it up, I've been more motivated than ever to do well in all these events," Durbidge told the WSL, while waiting for the Quiksilver Pro France to kick off in Hossegor. "Not knowing when I'll be back to these places where I have so many good memories is daunting, so I just want to make the most of each stop."
France, in particular, has been good to Durbidge. He made the Final here only two years ago and had another runner-up finish in 2008. It was also a victory in Lacanau in 2004 that enabled him to qualify for the CT. If anything, his impending retirement has only heightened his desire to perform in a place where he traditionally does well. This isn't some extended victory lap; as ever, Durbidge is in it to win it.
"I haven't once questioned my decision and I'm probably surfing better because I'm more motivated to put on a good performance at each location," he said. "As each heat could be my last at each stop, I want to win more than ever as there is a lot riding on each and every one."
If you know Bede, that is not surprising. He intends to go out as he came in. Working 100 percent to surf at his full potential and enjoying every second of it. That will be remembered, and missed.